Hulkenberg hails “one of my best races”

2013 Korean Grand Prix

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Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber, Korea International Circuit, 2013Nico Hulkenberg said his drive to fourth place in the Korean Grand Prix was one of his best yet but doubts it will help him secure a place on the grid next year.

Hulkenberg withstood pressure from Fernando Alonso early in the race and Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages of the race to claim his highest finish of 2013 so far.

“Today I drove one of the best races in my career so far,” he said after the race.

“I have had cars in the mirrors before, but today there were a lot and it was a bit annoying. Lewis really put the pressure on at the end, especially in the last sector.

“I knew I needed to get out of turn one well. The car?s traction was very good today, so that kept me alive against Fernando and then Lewis later on.”

However he doubts it will improve his chances of securing a competitive drive in 2014.

“I don’t think that this result only will change my future day and night. People have looked at me I think, if they are interested, for more time. Obviously today is good, no question, no argument, but they don’t just look at one race, do they? I don’t hope so, at least.”

Hulkenberg is one of the tallest drivers in Formula One and as next year’s cars will be very close to the minimum weight limit the extra weight he brings makes him a less attractive choice as a driver.

“I’m tall, we have a few other drivers which are tall, this subject will come up more and more, for teams and for drivers,” he said. “We might have to look at maybe doing something there, I’m not sure.”

“It’s not even worth for me to discuss it because I am what I am. I cannot change myself, I cannot chop the legs. I’d like to be ten centimetres smaller but it’s just not in it!”

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    Keith Collantine
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    60 comments on “Hulkenberg hails “one of my best races””

    1. He can be very proud of himself, that was a career-building performance right there.

      1. I follow him since 2009 in GP2 and, at that time, he was already impressive by his consistency in the results.

        But every year he’s been in F1 he proved himself strongly, noting he never drove for the same outfit two consecutive years.

        That guy is The Hulk, sad his height/weight is a problem in F1

        1. The Hulk can’t exactly un-hulk, can he? If he did, he would probably lose his mojo… :D

        2. Also, his first lap was very impressive. Gutierrez got the spots into T1, but Hulk got the exit and passed Perez, Massa, Gutierrez and Alonso into T3, also being the only one to avoid that incident (along with Alonso who just managed to and thus got 6th). He also owned on restarts and the choice of setting up the car for overtaking speed was brilliant.

          He’s now single handedly jumped Sauber ahead of Toro Rosso, easily giving them more than his own salary back in improved prize money for next year. Maybe enough to not need two heavily sponsored drivers? Who knows… Gutierrez-Sirotkin could be impending (along with a risk of falling behind Toro Rosso once more), although Massa is still looking for a drive… Massa-Gutierrez with Sirotkin in FP1s is surely their best option. If Gutierrez has lost Telmex cash then it’ll probably be Massa-Sirotkin!

          1. @fastiesty

            He’s now single handedly jumped Sauber ahead of Toro Rosso, easily giving them more than his own salary back in improved prize money for next year.

            The Hulk is Sauber himself, that’s something quite big. I’d like some @andae23, @keith stats on how many drivers scored every points of their team alone during a whole season (at least two cars per team)

            1. Good point !

            2. The last ones to do so, I’m pretty sure, were Alonso and Rosberg in 2009

          2. Totally agree regarding the monetary argument.
            Imagine Sauber having Gutierez and Sirotkin (nothing against him, but i doubt he is ready) in the car. They possibly would be still without a point and barely holding marussia and caterham at bay.
            Do pay drivers really contribute that much, that it’s worth picking them over a solid point collector wirth the occasional exceptional moment?
            I sure hope not!

            1. That’s an exaggeration. The Sauber might not be great, but it’s leaps and bounds ahead of Caterham and Marussia. To suggest that Sauber would be fighting with them if they ran Gutierrez and Sirotkin is just plain wrong – especially since Gutierrez has shown a marked improvement over the past few races. He had a disappointing race in Korea, but that was mostly down to being caught in the Alonso-Massa tangle on the first lap. Gutierrez was forced wide and bled track positions.

        3. I don’t even blame the teams. A simple rule change could make it way easier for everybody, it’s up to FIA.

          1. +1 It’s not as if anyone is demanding the rules allow for a morbidly obese person to drive an F1 car. Hulkenberg should not be threatened by a possible career ending regulation for being only slightly larger than the average F1 driver.

            A rule like this that potentially excludes someone already in the game with the somewhat arbitrary stroke of the pen is why many people dislike rulemakers and the sometimes petty regulations they come up with. With the substantial increase in minimum weight for 2014 what difference is a few more kg really going to make?

      2. Great drive by Hulkenberg. It will be a huge loss for the sport if he is not in F1 next season. I have a gut feeling that he will be driving for a team that realizes his talent is worth more than what most pay drivers can deliver. I am waiting for that team to step forward and impress F1 fans across the world with their intelligence.

      3. Again… I think he would trade a bit of his “career” for a decent drive.

      4. I have never been impressed by Hulkenberg , but today i can now see what the fuss is about. That was a craftsmans race by Nico and fending off WDC’s in a sauber regardless of traction and top speed showed race craft of a very high order. He simply out drove “anyone got any suggestions”Hamilton

    2. So happy for him, I just pray there’s a chaotic race in one of the final races so he can pick up his first podium.

      1. How amazing would that be. I think with Sauber’s resurgence it’s not entirely impossible either :D

      2. I was hoping for that win/podium in Brazil last year, even though I also wanted alonso up front and vet in back… Too many hopes for one race I guess.

    3. That was a performance for the ages from Hulkenberg. It’s hard to stand out in a midfield car, but he did today.

      1. Last year he was the overtaker of the race, this year he was incredible in defending his spot. Overall its a scandal he might even be out of a drive next year for not being midget sized flyweight.

      2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        6th October 2013, 17:44

        Fantastic performance from Hulkenberg but I give the nod to Hamilton – he put so much pressure on Hulkenberg and passed him once despite the fact that the Sauber in Hulkenberg’s hands was simply unpassable as witnessed earlier in the race.

        This was vintage Hamilton! You might be unpassable but I’ll pass you even for a split second just to show you that it can be done!

        That Sauber was so quick off turn 1 that it almost looked like a Red Bull. Is Newey’s twin moonlighting at Sauber?:-)

        1. Vintage Hamilton?

          What part exactly? The part where he was moaning about the Sauber or the part where he was asking the team over the radio for ‘suggestions’ on how to pass?

          1. Hamilton did very well. Yes he didn’t manage to pull a miracle out of the bag but he was the most dangerous from all cars getting stuck behind Hulkenberg. Even Hulk himself admitted he felt the most pressure from him.

            People like you just don’t get it. Mercedes had less straight line speed and traction out of slow corners. It was only better at slalom fast corners but at that part an overtaking move is impossible. So in the only part of the track overtaking was possible Lewis had a worse car.
            That is why he asked for suggestions. It seemed like there weren’t much choices left.
            So no it wasn’t an easy job just because it was a Sauber.
            Of course that doesn’t mean Hulk wasn’t impressive. Handling cars in your mirrors all the time and always taking the correct lines with no mistakes is not an easy task at all and you need amazing concentration and skill but still lets not cheapen this to “Hamilton got schooled” foolishness by people like you with little racing comprehension.

    4. If he doesn’t get a seat on the grid next year, F1 seriously needs to have a look at itself and make a big change somewhere. He is doing things in that Sauber very few other drivers could do, in fact I might even go as far as to say only the top 4 drivers could (with maybe the exception of Button and Rosberg, although both are more set-up dependant). He’s driven beautifully this season and his racecraft is second to none.

      1. @vettel1 Completely agree. I think if I were creating a team, and the top 4 drivers were taken (which they are), I’d have Hulkenburg as my next pick, ahead of anyone else, and then I’d probably choose either Rosberg or Grosjean.
        I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the same as you’ve said, if he doesn’t get a drive next year, then it would be an absolute disaster for F1. I still think he should have been picked over Di Resta at FI for 2011.

        1. What I’ve never fully understood is why a sponsor doesn’t fund his way up the grid if that is what needs to be done, and then laud the tv coverage he’ll inevitably gather from being such a good driver. That doesn’t make sense to me @philereid!

          Completely agree that he should’ve been chosen over Di Resta also.

          1. @vettel1 I’ve always wondered why sponsors don’t go for the better drivers, rather than the ones they have connections with.
            I really hope a sponsor comes along a takes him. I think of all the drivers who lack big sponsors, he’s the one who deserves it the most.

            1. Maybe some of the sponsors who help Sutil will realize they picked the wrong German…

      2. I agree with you, same goes for Robin Frinjs talent these days is not anymore important, Hulk has had a Ferrari contract on his hand but Raikkonen return blocked his move
        If Red Bull (i mean Marko because Newey & Horner were pushing for kimi)has chosen Kimi instead of Dan
        we could have ended up in 2014 with Kimi-Vettel, Alonso-Hulk, Roseberg-Hamilton in the best 3 teams

        1. I saw on TV how Horner starring at Kimi’s onboard camera, I wonder what he was thinking of..whilst Ricciardo out of the race again.

      3. @vettel1 – Blame Red Bull. They’ve repeatedly refused to agree to any cost-cutting reforms beyond the RRA. They insist that the RRA is the only viable way of promoting cost-cutting, whilst costs are spiralling to the point where talented drivers are being priced out of the sport.

    5. Someone has to do the right thing and give Hulkenberg a competitive car. He was superb today, a really top class drive to hold off no lesser drivers than Hamilton and Alonso.

      1. What makes you think the Sauber wasn’t competitive today?

      2. @geemac – Okay … which competitive car?

        Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes already have their driver line-ups in place. McLaren have a seat, but are working on keeping Perez, and while they can be competitive, they can also McLaren things up. Lotus have a seat going, but need to sort their financial future out and are losing their technical staff to other teams. Force India started the season strongly, but that was really only because other teams made mistakes, and they have a documented history of slipping down the order as the season goes on. As for all the other teams, it would take a miracle in car development for them to suddenly become competitive.

        So, you can call for Hulkenberg to get a competitive seat all you like – the problem is that there aren’t any available, and it would be a big risk to go to the teams on the fringes.

        1. @prisoner-monkeys Apologies for the lack of substantive backing for my flippant comment on the internet. I am fully aware that top seats are few and far between and a seat at Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes or indeed McLaren is probably not going to open up for a few seasons. His most likely destination for 2014 is Lotus and according to Ted Kravitz at least, that deal is very likely to happen. Lotus to Sauber may be seen by a few to be another step sideways, but they (for the avoidance of all possible doubt, by they I mean Lotus) are a team that know how to win races and championships which Sauber, though dear to my heart, do not.

          @gary308 Well Hulkenberg’s C32 was competitive today, but Gutierrez ‘s finished out of the points again. Bar the last few races, the C32 hasn’t exactly set the world alight in 2013. What I would like to see is him (for the avoidance of all possible doubt, by him I mean Hulkenberg) in a car which can challenge at the sharp end consistently over the course of a season, not once in a blue moon. I’m pretty certain I’m not alone in that.

          1. @geemac – But the big problem with moving to Lotus is that it’s a huge step into the unknown. They are losing James Allison to Ferrari, and there are serious questions about their financial future. Moreover, such a move would make Lotus Hulkenberg’s fourth team in five years (and his fourth team in four years of competition), which makes him an uncertain prospect for long-term stability. He’d be better off staying at Sauber and hoping a seat at Ferrari opens up sooner rather than later. McLaren reportedly still want Alonso, whilst Raikkonen is on a one-year contract with a one-year option, so an opportunity might come up in the near future.

            1. That’s true, but you would have to assume that Allison has left Lotus late enough in the year to have already had quite a significant impact on next years car, particularly given the long lead times involved in the 2014 project. Something which makes me feel Lotus would be a more positive more than staying at Sauber is the far more positive rumblings coming out of Renault in respect of their 2014 powertrains than is currently coming out of Ferrari.

    6. Great drive from The Hulk.

    7. We can be very proud of Hulkenberg and Sauber today! He drove like a champion and he deserves all the attention and the celebrations! Well done! We are going to Japan with renewed hope and positive outlook! It is encouraging to see Sauber improving race after race.

    8. Michael Brown (@)
      6th October 2013, 12:34

      Grosjean and Hulk for Lotus. Make it happen guys

      1. And paint his car green with a Hulk drawn on it from the Austrian artist who made the Bull for STR!

        1. Awesome idea @bascb

        2. Imagine all the tweeting possibilities. Lol

      2. I’m desperate for this to happen. It’d be one of the strongest and most underrated driver lineups out there.
        RG is really getting his act together and Hulk is building up to his best, I think todays performance beats his pole in Brazil.

    9. Looking at the Drivers’ Championship, the Hulk has outscored Perez in a McLaren! And I know it’s a 2013 McLaren, but it’s still a McLaren.

    10. It amaized me how good he was today. Summed up really what he’s been doing since Williams days.

      The way he defended was absolutely spot on. Holding the lines well, moving at the last second so Hamilton had to have another guess. And re-overtaking when it was possible.

      It was also incredible how good that Sauber was out of turn 1 !

      It’s one of those performances that will stay in the memories of many. 15 laps, I never thought he was going to make it. And the terrifying thing was that had he lost to Hamilton, he’d have lost momentum and lose to Alonso and Rosberg aswell. It’d have gone from hero to zero in seconds, but he held it up.

      Next year, you’re my fav, Hulk !

    11. Incredible!

    12. Amazing drive

    13. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      6th October 2013, 16:26

      Definitely he IS the Incredible Hulk. And I would be really disappointed if he can’t get that Lotus seat.

      1. Dont worry he will get to Ferrari, just wait and see ;).

        1. Not for 2014!

          1. Who knows, perhaps one baby cry and leave for Mclaren.

    14. hulk in the Mclaren or Lotus, seems like Mclaren are not impressed with Perez..

    15. Feno-me-nale Hulk!

    16. Hulkenberg is an incredible talent. If Ferrari and Alonso are going to part ways than they should consider bringing him, making him #1 and building the team around him. He is superb.

      Alternatively McLaren could get him to partner Button. Regardless, he needs to be in a race winning seat next year, not just any seat.

    17. Hulkenberg said he deliberately did not defend into T1 because if he did, he was toast, so he would invite Hamilton to take a punt knowing he could get a good exit (unless Hamilton made a block-pass stick) and the one time Hamilton did go for it, he couldn’t block Hulkenberg and he went straight back past.
      Hamilton seemed focused on the run out of T1, I’m surprised he didn’t try and make a block-pass on him more often as he was close enough to have a lunge.
      Really interesting to see how they were thinking in the heat of an intense scrap- shows what mental capacity they have spare the better drivers

      1. hamilton’s tires were destroyed by the end of the race, plus he was well aware of a ferrari behind him – this might have prevented him from pushing harder to overtake.

    18. If he doesn’t land a seat I will have no words.

    19. I would like to think that Hulkenberg’s story will turn out differently, however, I think he’ll end up as the same hard luck story of fellow tall driver Alex Wurz, who had similar issues in the 90’s and early 00’s, but never had his F1 career launch. Wurz had some good drives, and had some bad ones too. The reality is, that having a heavier driver means that teams can’t run the ballast that they’ve become use to using. Teams use ballast in different areas other than under the drivers seat, in fact I don’t know of any team running ballast under the drivers seat, and instead its used to balance and cure handling issues of a car suffering from understeer or oversteer.

      For those that know me, they know that I’m keen supporter of German F1 drivers, and have been a keen support of Hulkenberg even before he made his F1 debut, however, I cannot see a team taking a chance on him. It really is Lotus or Sauber at the moment and Sauber isn’t exactly a prized seat due to their financial short comings. However, Lotus already have a young driver in Grosjean and I would be surprised if they would want another young gun in that seat.

      I hope that I am wrong because no other mid pack driver (possibly the exception of Bianchi) in the paddock has shown that he deserves this drive.

    20. I honestly can’t see the problem!

      He only weighs 3 or 4 kg’s more than Button and not much more than the rest.

      Surely his talent makes up for the time lost with the extra weight!!!

      1. I agree, I don’t think any team principle worth their spot could fail to see that.

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